Well, we heard the big guns roar behind the battle line;

Every member of the Corps, by our officer’s design,

Affixed his bayonet to his trusty laser gun.

The order, as of yet, had not come to anyone,

But we knew we’d have to charge at the foemen’s barricade,

So, in battle armor large, in a phalanx we arrayed.

Our satellites looked down at the enemy’s artillery

Which was set up in a town that our cavalry would pillory.

The UAV’s report went directly to the Colonel

(Who was resting in the Fort, with an injury internal)

The plan that he devised had been centuries rehearsed,

It would have been recognized by Napoleon the First.

But for every gee-whiz gadget, and with all of our  technology—

The upper management has yet to send us an apology.

The strategies they made were completely obsolete

And so our whole brigade met a horrible defeat.

All our battle droids broke ranks, and we knew our fate was sealed–

So we took our hover tanks and retired from the field.


In the gloomy, grim Midwest

One dark October day,

I rode along a hilltop crest,

Past a quarry cold and grey.

It was late that afternoon

And I turned to head for home;

When across the barren dune

I saw a figure roam.

I called to him, but no reply

From that figure reached my ear.

And I could not believe my eye

But then he seemed to disappear!

I started, then, upon the path

Down into the dark ravine,

Shuddering to think what hath

Lain long therein, unseen.

When once I reached the floor

The afternoon to night was turning,

But in the dark, I heard a roar

As of a massive fire burning.

And from the distance came a cry

That left me feeling sickened.

And feeling Duty bade me try

To help, my pace I quickened.

The night wind tore my cloak

As I passed trees all dead and rotten.

The smoky, stony place bespoke

A time long since forgotten.

The wolfpacks bayed and howled

From distant, lonely places,

The tree trunks leered and scowled

With twisted moonlit faces.

When that last fatal bend I rounded

I saw the mighty fire, and the rings

By which it was surrounded

Of leaping, grinning, cackling THINGS.

And at the center of the blaze

I saw that at which they chanted,

A sight I’ll not forget for all my days

And on my deathbed shall be haunted.

I turned and ran, in mindless fear,

My faith and reason torn in half.

As I plunged on, I nigh could hear

Those awful creatures laugh.

Now I try to live what life I can

On my lonely country farm;

A broken, shattered, frightened man

Who lies awake for fear of harm.

I will only go out in the day;

And sometimes, in my room at night,

I think that I can hear them, far away,

As they chant their Diabolic rite.

[Inspired by a suggestion Thingy made in the comments on this post.  It kind of wound up being completely different than I expected when I started it.]

Of all the monsters men detest, one that stands above the rest

Is none other than the dreadful VAMPIRE!

By day a suave aristocrat, at night it turns into a bat;

Who can deny the fear that they  inspire?

But though frightful are these ghouls, they’re governed by some rules

That are overly complex and convoluted.

Bram’s well-publicized account of an evil, charming Count

In their mythology is deeply rooted.

Garlic is their kryptonite; put it ’round their crypts at night

And you’re safe from Dracula and from Carmilla.

When to destroy ’em it suffices to expose ’em to some spices–

Well, what happens if you feed ’em some vanilla?

And none of them appears in such surfaces as mirrors–

A property of theirs which is very unexpected;

Because it does not apply to the normal human eye

Into which their light is properly reflected.

If you’re writing vampire fiction, there’s a good deal of restriction

On the powers of your Nosferatu.

So, you’ll have to pick and choose from the rules you want to use–

Or at the very least, you sure ought to!

Where vampires are concerned, if there’s one thing I have learned

It’s that they can be whate’er you want.

They need not be tall and sleek, with a striking widow’s peak,

Nor need they be all pale and gaunt.

And if you think it’s queer that in mirrors they don’t appear

That’s a feature you can readily exclude.

They can go out in the light, have a normal appetite,

And just sit around a lot and brood.

Or again, if one desires,  they can make all their vampires

Behave like a roaming zombie horde.

Yes, there’s many ways of writing of these monsters so affrighting–

I just wish for one of which I wasn’t bored!

Thingy had a great idea on her blog last week. The idea is to take one basic scenario and then write it in the style of different authors. Be sure to read her post first. I loved it, and I just had to try a few of my own. But read Thingy’s original post and get the aforementioned “gist” before you read mine.

H.P. Lovecraft (Cosmic Horror)

Into the blasphemous January gale stepped Jack Wilmarth.  By the banks of the inconceivably ancient Massachusetts river, he surveyed the queerly-shaped yews.  At length, he selected a log and aimed with his axe a blow at it, but the bizarre atmosphere of that eldritch locale distracted him, and he chose an unfortunate angle and wounded his thumb.  As the wound spread onto the snow, he turned to behold a strange motor approaching along the ancient mountain paths trod in antiquity by the native tribes…

P.G. Wodehouse (Humor)

“What ho, what ho—it seems young Jack has made a frightful fool of himself!”

“Indeed, sir?”

“Well, the young buffoon seems to have gone out for a bit of a ramble and thought to himself he’d try his hand at wood-chopping—you know, like those frightful blighters who go about in check shirts and great hats do—but it seems he rather gave the wood a bit of miss and hit his own hand instead.  Caused a bit of a scene on the snow, I mean to say!  Must’ve looked like the first scene of A. Christie’s latest, I should think!”

“Most distressing, sir.”

“Yes, well, if his fiancée hadn’t happened by in her car so they could biff off to hospital, I think we might have found ourselves reading about the poor fish in tomorrow’s obituaries.  Still, all’s well that ends well, what?”

“Indubitably, sir.”

Ayn Rand (Objectivism)

The weak, contemptible looter Jack was far too incompetent when he stepped out of the cabin to chop wood.  He was weak-willed, and incapable of realizing Man’s natural superiority over nature, and so foolishly cut his thumb and bled deservedly in the snow.  For he had failed to comprehend the eternal philosophical truth that…

[5,000 similar words omitted.]

…he raised his head to see a beautifully-made automobile approaching through the wood, demonstrating Man’s mastery of metal to conquer the Earth.

Thomas Hardy (Tragedy)

Jack made his egress from the small-gabled forest cabin of round logs, with a view to perhaps building a fire to warm him and heat his comestibles.  But alas, it is often the case that Fate will frustrate the efforts of mortals endeavoring to improve their situation, and so he was dismayed to injure his thumb on the instrument he used for the task.  He saw the snow around him turn crimson, and glanced up to see a vehicle in the lane beyond the cabin, but it passed him by.  It is ever so that cruel Fortune will present to us the means of salvation, only to just as quickly snatch them away…

(A Role-Playing Video Game)

[Set Player Name.  Player name = “JACK”]

[You see a door inside the cabin. Open it? Y/N]

[JACK chooses “Y” Exits to snowy morning scene.  You see an “Axe of Unbeatable Strength” Use? Y/N]

[JACK chooses “Y” Damage: self = 10 x 2 CRIT. Damage: Log = 0.  HP – 20]

[Play cinema scene of car pulling up.]

Down beneath the deepest vaults;

Down beneath forsaken wells;

There are places undiscovered;

Protected by unholy, ancient spells.

In a fever dream one winter night

I made the subterranean climb

To seek the old forgotten relics

Of a dreadful bygone time.

Down into the dark descending,

After hours lost in seas of black

I felt as if some hidden gulf was crossed

From which there was no turning back.

I emerged amidst an endless plain,

Covered with a strange, grey sand

As an evil star hung redly o’er me

And threw its vile tint upon the land.

I headed for the distant city

That on the far horizon loomed,

Whereat I knew the Ancient Things

Lay solemnly and silently entombed.

Once inside that twisted ruin

Through the winding streets I pressed.

Once or twice, a chill shot through me

When I thought I heard wings beating to the West.

At last I came upon a strange machine,

Designed to turn and twist the city’s gears,

All overrun with vines and fungal growths

Of unfathomably many years.

I sought a way beneath the site

To seek what had been built before,

When in my bed I suddenly awoke

And clutched a tome of ancient lore.

The desert


In my little town, when a chill autumn breeze

Comes sweeping down through the colorful trees

Whisking the leaves that float down when torn,

And the cold harvest moon rises over the corn;

Out near the old graveyard, so townspeople tell,

Dwells a monster that’s straight out of Hell.

They say that this creature, so awful and foul,

Is a shape-shifting thing who sometimes takes the form of an owl.

They caution all visitors who come passing through

To avoid the graveyard if they hear any owls crying “hoo”.

A scientist once came to live in our town,

And he thought that he ought track this bird down.

The people all told him he ought not to go,

But he was a skeptic, who doubted the legends, and so,

On Halloween night, he went off to the wood

Trying to find that bird if he possibly could.

He sought the old graveyard–that forbidden zone–

And there, on the unhallowed ground, he waited alone.

His journal records that, as near midnight drew,

He heard that unmistakable “hoo, hoo!”

He did not have to make much of a search,

For atop the ancient, untended crypt the creature did perch.

He must have pursued it inside, underground,

To judge by his footprints–the only traces the search party found.

He’s not been seen since–where he is, none can presume–

And none of the searchers dared to go down in that tomb.

And every man in the party swears on his life that he knew

He heard an owl, in the daylight, calling mockingly: “hoo”.

But this is only old folklore–and from so long ago,

That whether it’s true I cannot claim to know.

Nowadays, the screeches of owls seldom pierce the night air,

And perhaps ’tis the case that there aren’t any there.

But some people say that on dark Autumn nights,

On old country roads, far from the town’s lights,

They have glimpsed a strange man, with a curious cowl,

Whose features resemble those of an owl;

With piercing round eyes, and a nose like a beak.

And there is only one thing that compels him to speak:

If you say the scientist’s name, he’ll look right at you,

And his eyes seem to smile, and he says simply:



Over at the Buffalo Bills fanblog “Buffalo Rumblings“, Aaron Lowinger wrote a counter-factual season preview/review of past Bills seasons; that is, a kind of historical fiction or “alternate reality” type of post.  I thought it was a cool idea, but the reaction from most of the site’s readers was pretty negative.  I can sort of see why, too, because even in Lowinger’s fantastic universe, the Bills are still seeking their first championship.  Enhanced misery is not what people want in their daydreams.

I really like the idea, though. I’d like to try it myself in fact.  Allow me, if I may, to borrow Lowinger’s (and Buffalo Rumblings editor Brian Galliford’s) idea, and try to make it into a happier one.  What follows is purely fictional–although it may be factual somewhere in the multiverse…


When the ball slipped through the fingers of their most reliable receiver this past January, it shattered many Bills fans’ hopes of doing something done only twice before: three championships in four years.  The Bills, coming off a franchise-best 14-2 regular-season record, had marched down the field for a touchdown to cut the upstart Jaguars’ lead to 31-29, but the two-point conversion fell short with only seconds remaining.

It was a rare miscue for a team accustomed to winning.  After their thrilling 31-28 O.T. win over Arizona in SB 43, the Bills had established a reputation as clutch winners.  Their improbable run to a 34-15 shellacking of that same Arizona team in SB 45 only cemented that reputation, with a thrilling 17-point rally to beat Indy in the divisional round, followed by Trent Edwards’ clutch drive to down favored Baltimore 27-24 in the conference final being the most notable examples.

January’s disappointment aside, the Bills remain a young team with all the major pieces in place for another championship run.  Although they lost star running back Steven Jackson in free-agency, they are confident that Spiller can fill his shoes.  The receiving corps remains intact, as does the offensive line. The addition of Asante Samuel to a strong secondary makes them arguably even more powerful than the #2 defensive unit that led them to their first championship.


Well, that was fun, right?  Or maybe not.  Is it just a sad reminder of how bad things are, or an uplifting diversion?  For, after all, sports themselves are meant to be an uplifting diversion.  They really aren’t much good if you let them make you sad.

P.S. Lowinger and Galliford–should you happen to read this, I hope you don’t mind me reworking your idea.  If you do, I’ll gladly take it down.  It’s not exactly Goethe reworking Marlowe’s stuff, but sometimes it pays to take more than one crack at an idea.

I stood there alone

As I pondered the sun.

I had wandered since gloam,

Traces of life I saw none.

I was lost in the sand,

My body was dirty and smelly;

“Lone and level”, by damn,

Was the scene, as would say Shelley.

I shouldn’t have gone on this trip;

I’d be better off home.

I hated the sand and its grit,

But lost, I continued to roam.

At length, I discovered some shade,

An oasis and system of caves.

I sat me down there to wait

And gazed at the pond and the waves.

I fancied I saw in that pool

A vista of planets and stars,

A whole galaxy, and nebulae too,

And centaurs and globules and quasars.

I fell from the hot desert clime

Into that abyss of icy infinity.

Where the stardust twisted like vine

Amidst lights that danced like divinity.

I fell like a rock into space

And sometimes I believe I fall still.

For I am only a body displaced,

And I go where the Universe will.

So, as usual, there’s a lot of Lovecraftian Cosmicism in this. I did do something I’ve been wanting to try for a while in this poem, though. You’ll notice it’s in a typical ABAB rhyme scheme, but all the “As” are not rhymes but rather assonances. They don’t end on the same sound, but they contain similar sounds.